What Then Shall We Say to These Things?

gods loveWhat shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NLT)

Terry and I had known each other for 15 days. On this particular day, neither of us knew it, but 15 days later we’d be married. Half way through our courtship, I went to visit Terry. It was Terry’s tradition to go snow skiing during his winter vacation. I was going along for fun but being uninsured and unemployed, I didn’t dare ski. The closest skiing was about a 90-minute drive from Terry’s home.

I hopped in Terry’s red pickup and we took off. Iowa is mostly corn or bean fields—empty fields in December. About 45 minutes into the drive, I had no idea where I was. Out in the middle of nowhere, the thought struck me, I’m in the middle of nowhere with this guy I hardly know. My mom wouldn’t be very happy with me. We kept driving and chatting. As we chatted, Terry put my fears to rest—I realized he loved me. I was in the middle of nowhere with a man I hardly knew—but I was safe. I know some of you find this horrifying, but as one of my friends put it, Terry came “pre-approved.” His aunt set us up and she is quite trustworthy.

I’m not giving marriage advice. I don’t suggest you follow my lead. What I do want you to take from this example is this; love changes everything.

What wonderful news for Monday morning! If God is on your side—what do you have to worry about? Sure, I know there are many things that might have you troubled today. Some of you might be thinking, if you only knew how bad my situation is you would understand why I don’t feel victorious.

My response to that is; where does this passage talk about how you feel?

Here is the truth—the glorious truth of Romans 8—your situation doesn’t matter.

Can you believe God’s word?

Will you believe God’s word?

God loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you. Let me ask you Paul’s question is a little different way; do you think God would squander His Son for no reason? When God sent Jesus, He demonstrated His love for us while we were His enemies. Love like that is love that can be trusted. If God was willing to do that for his enemy, what do you think He’d give His child? (That’s you if you’re a believer!) Christ and the Holy Spirit pray and intercede for the believer—talk about a prayer meeting!

Paul didn’t write these words lightly or without experience. Paul left a comfortable position of a Rabbi in Jerusalem to travel as a missionary for this new and not eagerly accepted Christianity. After his conversion, he spent three years in Arabia. He was imprisoned, abandoned by his close friend, riots broke out in response to his message, Paul was flogged and kicked out of more than one city. When Paul wrote these words, his missionary life was only about half over—he still had many more hardships to come. When he wrote about hardship, famine, nakedness, danger or sword—he knew those things first hand.

Paul also knew it’s in those moments—only in those moments—that you can know you are MORE than a conqueror. What is bigger than you are today? What worry do you have for tomorrow? What situation is too big for you to handle?  Notice Paul’s position on this issue. Paul wasn’t a touchy-feely sort of man—this chapter doesn’t have anything to do with how you feel about your predicament. Paul is convinced that God’s love is bigger, mightier, more powerful than anything that would try to come between it and the believer.

Be convinced that God’s love is enough.

When you don’t understand –be convinced of God’s love.

When you can’t see how things will possibly work out for your good—be convinced of God’s love.

When you’ve lost hope in your ability—be convinced of God’s love.

When you are tired and don’t think you can go on—be convinced of God’s love.

Be convinced that nothing – not even death can separate you from God’s love!

What can you say? If God is for you, who can be against you?

Father, when I am overwhelmed by my circumstances, remind me of Your love. When I’m weak and tired—when I’m lazy and distracted, remind me of Your love. When my here and now eclipse the eternal truth of Your love for me, open my eyes to the glory of the love You give me. When I’m tempted to wallow in self-pity, remind me of Your great love for me. Thank you, Jesus for Your sacrifice. Thank you, Father, for your love.

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This IS Going to Hurt

shotAnd the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. Romans 8:26-30 (NLT)

“Yes, this IS going to hurt.”

I’m not one of those nurses who tells you you’re going to feel a “pinch” or a “bee sting.” I’ve never understood why nurses and doctors use those examples. Being pinched doesn’t feel good. If you’ve ever been stung by a bee, you know that really hurts. What I do tell my patients? I tell them, “This is going to hurt but not as bad and not for as long as being sick—so if you can endure this pain, you’ll be better off.” Once the patient hears “it’s going to hurt” they are usually surprised that it didn’t hurt that much as they imagined.

Let me take you back a few years.

As I shopped in the Christian bookstore, I saw a plaque. The inscription: Don’t pray for an easy life, pray to be strong. Underneath those words Romans 8:28. I could feel the anger well up in me as I looked at the wall art with those words and pretty, little flowers painted on it. Tired from a life consumed by my husband’s illness, I wanted to overturn the entire display. I didn’t. I did cry—I didn’t want to be strong any longer. I wanted some ease. As far as I was concerned, I was finished with the lesson God was trying to teach me. Whatever it was—I didn’t need to learn it—I didn’t want to learn it. The trite plaque came close to making me snap.

I have the same reaction to people who quote Romans 8:28 to me. I don’t quote this verse to people. If you’ve had a well-intentioned Christian friend quote this verse to you in the middle of your suffering, you know why. You might find comfort in hearing it, but if you’re like me, you might resent the object lesson God seems to be offering and/or the messenger who delivers this “good news.” You don’t have to live very long before you learn the “everything that works together” can be very painful, soul-crushing and the lesson can go on for years.

Like the other verses in the Bible, Romans 8:28 is not a verse to be quoted on its own but in context. Although, on its own, it can make me angry—in context it’s a glorious reminder of God’s love, power and work in the life of the believer.

That’s the key—the context of Romans 8.

Beginning with the real Good News—in Christ, because of Christ—God does not consider us guilty—Paul works through the divine change Christ and the Holy Spirit bring to the believer’s life. Sin is no longer the master of the believer. Instead, God is your “daddy” and you are His child. Although, because of sin’s corruption, there is suffering in this world, the believer has a partner—the Holy Spirit.

God’s Holy Spirit works out God’s will in the life of the believer.

God’s will—two power and confusing words. What is God’s will for your life? That is the question one must answer before Romans 8:28 makes sense.

Is it God’s will when there is a $250 bonus in your paycheck? Is it God’s will when the guy or gal you’ve had your eye on finally asks you on a date? Is it God’s will when every detail of your convoluted plan goes as planned and you are happy? OK. If those things are God’s will for your life, let me ask you this. Is it God’s will when you rip your pants as you get out of the car at your job interview? Is it God’s will that you burn your hamburger and ruin dinner? Is it God’s will when you run out of money half way through the week? Is it God’s will when your loved one dies, when your job disappears, when things don’t go “your way” or when tragedy strikes?

Hmmm—that’s why God’s will seems so difficult to understand. All of those things can be true—all at the same time.

Here’s what I’ve learned. God’s will is His will, not mine.

My will is for ease, simplicity, and comfort.  My will would have all the things in my life make immediate and complete sense. The events of life should flow together toward an obvious goal. I would be happy and comfortable. Questions would have obvious and forthcoming answers.

God’s will is to make me like Jesus—talk about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear! Talk about a difficult and painful transformation. Did you see it in the passage today—God causes everything to come together for good…so you can become like His Son, Jesus.

This passage doesn’t promise that everything will make sense in its own right, everything will feel good, or that everything the believer experiences will be pleasant. This passage promises that God’s Holy Spirit will pray for the believer when the believer doesn’t know how to pray—when all the believer can do is groan. This passage assures the believer that God is a loving daddy who is powerful and can work all the circumstances of life into a purposeful goal. This passage should encourage the believer since it promises us that God knows what He’s doing, who He’s working with and how to accomplish His will.

That’s God’s will—to use all the circumstances the believer faces to make us like Jesus. Remember that when you are unsure of your circumstances, you can be absolutely sure of one thing—God loves you and is working in your life.

Wait until you hear Paul’s conclusion and glorious promise!

Father, help me endure the expectant pregnancy of this life so I can share in Christ’s glory—remind me my suffering—great or small doesn’t come from You, my loving heavenly Father, but that You can use it to eventually make me like Christ. Remind me of the glory I’m waiting for. Remind me You are trying to make me like Christ—that is Your goal—and the Holy Spirit can accomplish it! Help me focus on Your love for me and not my plans or schemes. Help me trust You more. Help me rely on me less.

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Just a Little Glimpse



Hi Readers!

I’m in the middle of decompressing from a long and painful night at work.

I can tell you for sure, if this present suffering is any indication, our future glory is AMAZING!  What a precious promise–what a blessed hope!

I’ll see you tomorrow!

Keep Walking!

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Your Job: Keep Walking

crowd2For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us. The eager expectation of the creation waits for the appearance of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

 We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. Not only that, but we also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves while eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For we are saved through hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does a man still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:18-27 (MEV)

“Hang on to each other and just keep your feet moving.” That was the command I gave my friends as we attempted to move through the crowd. The four of us were trying to get from one workshop to another. The next workshop was in a building about a city block away from where we were. The crowd had no direction. It seemed the four of us were trapped in a swirling pool of people who were going nowhere.

I’ve found, when trapped by a mass of people, if you don’t stop moving your feet, even if you’re marching in place while you’re being jostled around by the teeming crowd, you make better headway. After making it through the crowd in good time, one of my friends commented, “That worked.”

Just keep your feet moving.

Authenticity—it’s one of my favorite things about the Bible. Some religious folks may try to make you think you should have no problems or struggles once your join “the club.” Some ultra-religious folks will tell you that if you have troubles it’s indicative of some secret sin or some area in your life you haven’t fully surrendered.

Hog wash.

If you have troubles in your life—you’re living life. Nowhere does scripture say the believer won’t have problems.   In fact, the opposite is true. Jesus spoke it out right. Paul makes it clear in this passage—he even goes on to tell us why we have suffering.

This world is not the world God intended for His creation. We, the larger “we” of humanity, mucked it up with pride and willfulness. Don’t get me wrong. I love my free-will but I hate the places it leads me from time to time. It has led me to suffering, and there was no one else to blame.

You will have suffering.

Just keep your feet moving—even if you are marching in place.

If you are a believer, you SHOULD feel uneasy in this world. This world is not your home. There is a greater place awaiting the believer—the place God intended when He created this world. Everyone and everything feels it. The day we are with God is the day we are hoping for—a confident hope that someday soon we will be in a place of glory and not suffering.

The difference between the believer and non-believer is not that they suffer and we don’t—it’s that we have a Helper. Our struggles and sufferings are not ours alone.  When you don’t know what to pray, when you are too tired, too worn out, too selfish, too baffled to pray—the Holy Spirit prays for you—He prays when you can’t. That’s a small lesson in how important prayer is. When you can’t; the Holy Spirit does and can. When the Holy Spirit prays for you, He prays God’s perfect will for your life—no trifle, no bargaining, no I just need things to go my way sort of prayer—but God’s perfect will for your life.

If you find your legs are tired in your walk, if it’s all uphill and you can’t see the top of the mountain, if the valley you’re walking through is dark and scary, if you’ve been walking in a circle and your soles are wearing thin—keep walking.

You are not alone. You are not unique. You have hope.

Remember what I wrote about my least favorite passage in the Bible—it’s coming up tomorrow. It’s about God’s will. God’s will—that seemingly elusive thing all believers long for—watch out—God’s will for you might not be your will for you!

You’ll find out it’s far better.

Father thank You for the promise of a future glory. Keep my eyes fixed on that when I become tired and worn out here. Remind me how important prayer is. Help me to be discontent here and now. Teach me to have your vision about what my life should be. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit’s work in my life.

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Your Job: Start Walking

walking signBut if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! Romans 8:9-17 (MSG)

I’ve never been a runner. Before my foot problems made walking painful, I walked all the time. I planned my day around when I was going to walk. Now, I don’t walk like I used to—for a lot of reasons. What I remember about walking is this, some days it was easy and some days it was hard. I didn’t always walk the same route. That’s not what made the difference. Some days my body just wasn’t interested in walking. On those days, the flat stretches offered as much difficulty as the hills. Some days walking bored me—other days it thrilled me. I experienced falls that caused me to limp back home and question why I even tried, but the next day I was back on the sidewalk ready for one more go-round.

Living the Christian life is a lot like walking. Paul introduces the believer’s walking partner in this chapter—the Holy Spirit. Depending on your denomination, the Holy Spirit might be the Holy Ghost, or He might be just a name you mention during a prayer. The Holy Spirit might be something you need to seek out—but Paul makes it clear—the difference between the believer and non-believer is the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the believers’ being.

Paul tells us He, the Holy Spirit, dwells with the believer and IN the believer. Paul tells us God does the same thing for believer that He did for Jesus when He raised Jesus from the dead. The old dead spirit of sin is raised to new life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Message uses dramatic language for this dramatic change. The paraphrase of Paul’s advice is, give your old life a burial and walk away.

The new life God offers the believer is the starting point. It is new life. God knows your past. God knows your sin. Your sin is (or was) an offense to a Holy God. God takes sin personally—when you and I sin, we sin against God.

But God…

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)

The repentant believer who comes to God for forgiveness finds it. Every time. Read those first few words of today’s passage—being self-obsessed will keep you from moving. You’ll spend your time wondering what this great spiritual adventure is, because you’ll be busy wallowing in the sin and shame that God has forgotten about—because of Christ’s sacrifice.

When you yield your life to God’s Holy Spirit, you begin walking on a new path.  You take a different direction. God sees you differently. The expectation is that you see God differently. The Holy Spirit changes your perception. The Holy Spirit changes your direction. The Holy Spirit grabs your attention.

On this Christian walk, there are days that aren’t as easy as others. God’s Spirit says, “Keep walking in this direction.” Other days the wind is at your back the road is smooth—those days are precious gifts from God. Some days the Holy Spirit leads you down a path that is rocky, uneven, dimly lit and right down scary. Understand if He’s leading you, He’s right there with you.

Our city provides and maintains walking paths–paths that are flat, smooth and easy to navigate.  God never prepares the path; only the walker.

People are funny. No matter how much we talk about God and His goodness, many times we only mean it when things are easy. We are working toward one of my least favorite verses in the Bible. It’s a verse you will misunderstand and misuse if your don’t have a firm grasp on the truth in this section of Romans 8.

Your Christian life isn’t about you. Paul writes as if you, the believing reader, understand that fact.

Father, Thank you for broadening my horizons. Thank you for taking me places I didn’t want to go. You have so much more for me than I want for myself. Let me not be complacent or reluctant to embrace the life You have for me. Teach me to repent and forget my sin—to never stop waking on the path You’ve set in front of me. Teach me to rely solely on Your Holy Spirit for strength, support and direction. Empower me to walk.

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Call Me Daddy!

daddy3But you are not ruled by your sinful selves. You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you. But the person who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ.  Your body will always be dead because of sin. But if Christ is in you, then the Spirit gives you life, because Christ made you right with God.  God raised Jesus from the dead, and if God’s Spirit is living in you, he will also give life to your bodies that die. God is the One who raised Christ from the dead, and he will give life through his Spirit that lives in you.

So, my brothers and sisters, we must not be ruled by our sinful selves or live the way our sinful selves want.  If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit’s help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, you will have true life.

The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.  The Spirit we received does not make us slaves again to fear; it makes us children of God. With that Spirit we cry out, “Father.” And the Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say we are God’s children. If we are God’s children, we will receive blessings from God together with Christ. But we must suffer as Christ suffered so that we will have glory as Christ has glory. Romans 8:9-17 (NCV)

You may remember a quandary of childhood. What do you call your friend’s mom? Calling someone else’s mom, “mom” doesn’t seem to fit. Calling her Mrs. State name here seems equally odd. Do you remember the compromise? Did you ever address your friend’s mom with a statement like this, “Umm (there is a pause while you try to figure out what to call her) Rachel’s Mom, is it ok if we play downstairs?”

The terms; mommy, mom, mother, daddy, dad, father are reserved for those with special relationships. Paul was desperately trying to help the new converts to Christianity understand this new relationship. This is a message for the believer! Paul wanted believers to understand this relationship!

Do you think of God as your Daddy? (Did you just gasp a little bit?) Superficially, it seems irreverent.  The term Paul used in his letter isn’t found in the Old Testament. Don’t worry, it’s ok. God is your Daddy if you are a believer in Christ and His sacrifice for your sins.

Why is this message so important for the believer?

After the all too familiar dilemma in Romans 7, in Romans 8 Paul talks about the differences No condemnation in Christ makes in the life of the believer. At the foundation of those changes is the believer’s relationship with God. Once a slave to the cruel task master of sin, the believer now has an opportunity for a relationship with a loving heavenly Father.

Perhaps you grew up in a great family of origin. Many people did not. I didn’t have a great relationship with my dad. For some that poor earthly experience taints how they relate to a Heavenly Father. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray Jesus finishes His lesson with a parental analogy. God makes even the best earthly father look evil by comparison. If you had an abusive, mean or distant earthly father—God is very different.

God is not the caricature painted in pop culture. For some the depictions of God as an angry, vindictive judge, goofy old man, a genie who grants wishes or a buddy up in heaven make relating to Him as a father almost impossible.

Paul says that Christ came to buy with His blood and make free all those who were held by law. If you aren’t sure who that includes, it includes everyone. Before or until a person accepts the redemption that Christ’s sacrifice offers, that person is a slave to sin. Sin is not a great master. Sin always ends in death. If you choose to remain in a sinful state, being afraid of God will be appropriate on day in the future. He will be a judge on that day.

The believer and God have a new relationship. It’s not slave and owner, it’s Father and child! Being saved is so much more than simply being forgiven. Paul says you become an heir. You become a child of God.

How do you know this occurs? The Holy Spirit changes the heart of the believer. The God that was once distant becomes close. That God, once feared, is loved. The word Paul used in verse 15 is “Abba” it’s similar in emotional-feel to the word “daddy.” Jesus used the word in the garden of Gethsemane when He asked His Daddy if dying on the cross was the only way to redeem humankind.

If you are a believer, God is your Daddy.

Does that change your outlook on the day? Your Daddy gave up His only Son to buy you back from slavery and instead of making you a slave of His own; He made you His child. You are co-heirs with Christ.

Does that seem irreverent and flippant or does it make your heart swell with love and gratitude? Does that thought change the way you think, how you pray, what you pray about, why you pray? Does relating to God as your Daddy make you want to share this Good News with others so they can be part of the family?

For the believer, having a Daddy changes things!

Daddy – thank you for sending Your Son, so that I could be free and be Your child. Thank you for loving me. Help me love You more. Let my life be an offering of gratitude to You.


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Something to Consider

considerThe month has changed – with the two week “hiatus” in September compliments of my web host, we’re only half way through Romans—maybe only 2/5 of the way through. So if this is your first day here—click around and get caught up.

As you find something you like, can I ask you to share it with a friend? In the left hand sidebar, you’ll notice the world map and the hearts that indicate someone in that country read this blog. It’s a testimony to God’s word—His word is powerful and unstoppable—I’m just His servant. God can use a discombobulated, unsettled goof-ball to spread His word around the world—that always amazes me.

You can subscribe and receive a daily email with each new post I write. Again, at the top of the left side bar you’ll see a place where you can add your email address. IT’S A TWO STEP PROCESS! After adding your email address you’ll receive an email requiring you to confirm it was you that signed up. If the confirmation email doesn’t come to your inbox soon after subscribing—check your trash or SPAM folder. Don’t worry, your email is safe with me! I’ll never give it to anyone else for any reason!

I still have a board on Pintrest. If you find yourself clicking around on Pintrest, search for my blog. You can find a link to the blog on Pintrest—Repin it when you see it!

Do you like (actual) books or need a gift? Let me suggest some unique gifts. Perhaps you can share the amazing story of grace with the ones you love. I have three devotional books you can order from Amazon.com. Why do you think your dad wouldn’t like a book?

Finding the Holy in a mundane world is a good read for the new believer or non-believer. It offers an introduction to God’s character, Jesus’ example of grace, why grace is AMAZING and the call of the Christian life—doing good things not simply following a list of “don’ts”

The Books We Never Read is the best bargain—it’s a 3 month devotional. If you think the Old Testament is irrelevant to your life today, read The Books We Never Read and you’ll find the story of God’s grace told and re-told in the lives of people with funny names, who lived in places with strange names, but who share the same struggles you do. You’ll also find the same grace tucked in these ancient stories.

A Clever Disguise if you’ve read my devotional blog, you understand, Ozzy is my handsome gentleman who is wonderful in every way!   Ozzy is my schnoodle—schnauzer-poodle mix. He’s a great dog that teaches me every day about grace, trust, dependence and obedience. If you have a dog lover in your life—this is the devotional book for him or her. It’s priced for gift giving.

Watch for the upcoming announcement—I’m working on a Christmas devotional. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to before now—it’s that procrastination thing I have —books don’t just “DO” themselves.  There. Now I’ve done—I’ll have to get it done now.   It should be available in November—in time for gift giving and Christmas reflection.

Just in case you missed something from last week, here are the links.

I am fleshy.

There is no peaceful coexistence.

God didn’t send Jesus to make you feel bad about your sin.

God wants to change the stuff I’m content to leave alone.

I don’t know about you—I can easily flip into autopilot.

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Get Your Mind Right

mind2Romans 8:5-8

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. (MSG)

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (NLT)


The TV provided the background noise for the afternoon. I wasn’t paying attention to the show that droned in the background, until I heard the show’s host give this piece of advice to his guest, “…You need to get your mind right…” Honestly, I didn’t listen to the advice—his admonition caught my attention and made me giggle. How often have I wanted to scream those words at any number of people?

Get your mind right

It’s Paul’s advice for us today. It’s also the first step to walking this Spirit-led life. A right mind is always the first step to right action. Paul made it clear in Romans 7 a simple desire to be good isn’t enough. No matter how much you want to be good—you can’t consistently accomplish being good on your own. The skills you possess aren’t enough.

I don’t know about you—I can easily flip into autopilot. I can meander my way through my days, being good enough so those I meet think I’m a good person. Being deliberate about listening to and for God’s direction in my life—that takes resolve and devotion.

Try it today. Keep your mind alert for God’s leading. You probably won’t hear an audible voice. You see, God has all ready spoken.  If you are interested in hearing what God wants for you—the best place to start looking for it is in His word, The Bible. Paul wrote about the value of God’s word to his young friend Timothy:

There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (MSG)

Father, tune my ears to hear Your voice. Align my thinking to Your way of thinking.

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But, I’ve Got Skills!

skillsTherefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.                  Romans 8:1-5 (NIV)

God went for the jugular when He sent His own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In His Son, Jesus, He personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us. Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.        Romans 8:3-8(MSG)

“Never let it be said I didn’t do the least I could do.” It’s my favorite quote from an old TV show, M*A*S*H.

“Remember I’m just here to help.” That is a Rachelism. I say these words in moments when my best intentions fail and I find myself fumbling, sometimes making the situation more complicated rather than better. As I jump in to help a co-worker untangle IV tubing, and end up creating more knots, my simple reminder serves as an apology for my clumsiness.

I like to DO something to make situations better.  I like to fix things–sometimes I like to fix things that aren’t necessarily broken–I just want to make those things “better.”

I’m a doer.  I like action.  I like to get things done.

If Romans 7 didn’t convince you that you aren’t able to pull off the life God requires, maybe Romans 8 will finally convince you. The glorious news of no condemnation does come with one string attached, though. If you’re like me, the proposition of Romans 8 might be more daunting than the dismal no-win situation of Romans 7.

Romans 7 confirms there is nothing I can do to be good enough to earn God’s favor—if you are a doer that is sad news. The struggle of Romans 7 at least offers me an active role. I can try and try to keep God’s law. I can fail and fail—but at least I’m doing something.

The news of Romans 8, as wonderful as it is, might be bittersweet.

It’s all God’s work.

Really? God doesn’t need my mad-skills to work out my salvation? God doesn’t need my help to form me into the person He wants me to become?



God wants to do something in me. Something I can’t accomplish on my own. Something no self-help book or even devotional can accomplish. God wants to do something beyond the scope of my skill set. God wants to fix the stuff I won’t admit is broken. God wants to change the stuff I’m content to leave alone.

God wants to change me.

I don’t know about you, to me that’s scary stuff.

Father, help me understand that surrender to Your Holy Spirit is my only hope. Teach me to trust Your love for me. Teach me to trust Your plan for me. I will surrender my will to Yours knowing that You have the power to change me into the person You want me to be.

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A Gift Worth Opening

gift2So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 (NLT)

I like presents.   I hate not knowing what is inside the boxes. One year the itch to know got the better of me. Now that both my parents are dead, I can admit this to the world. One year, I opened and re-sealed all my Christmas presents.  My parents never knew—I know that because they would not have allowed me to keep any of my gifts had they known. I just couldn’t wait.  The excitement was more than I could ignore.

God has an exciting gift for you.

If the guilt and despair of Romans 7 has you down, let me offer the most wonderful gift humanity has ever received—Romans 8:1. After the dismal discourse of chapter 7, Paul writes the soaring words of Romans 8:1:

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

What news could be better? There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ.

Wow. Let that soak in for a moment. On its own, that is great news. In the context of Romans 7—that news is colossal, gigantic—I find it difficult to find a word to sum up the truth of Romans 8:1. The truth of Romans 8:1 makes no sense—it is inhuman, otherworldly, and nothing short of miraculous.

Remember, you and I choose sin as our natural tendency. This single sentence reveals God’s true nature. God is love. The choice He made—the choice He makes—is to love. Jesus is the embodiment of that choice. Jesus’ death on the cross offers you and me a new life—a completely new situation.


Jesus came as God’s gift to humanity as the demonstration of God’s love. Remember Romans 5:8? Jesus’ sacrifice accomplishes two things. First, it removes the burden of sin’s condemnation from the life of the believer.  If that was not enough, Jesus’ sacrifice condemns sin.

That’s heavy stuff!

Really, it’s simple—God puts the blame where it belongs.

I’ve written before—and I’ll keep writing it—God is not like you and me.

God is impeccable at keeping score, but not in the way you’d think.

Some people—both believers and non-believers like to portray God as a vengeful god who wants to punish His creation. He’s not—at least not right now. There is a day of reckoning coming—today is not that day. Today God calls His prized creation, humanity, to come to Him. God knows you can’t meet His holy requirement—so in love, He sent the perfect sacrifice, Jesus. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice—you can be free from the penalty of sin that separates you from your Creator.

Are you someone who holds onto the guilt from your past mistakes or regrets? Maybe it’s a death grip that you feel you must maintain in order to be truly sorry for the things you’ve done or didn’t do. This single sentence says, Let go! Let go of the guilt because you’re free. God isn’t impressed by your guilt. He knows sin is the culprit. He sent Jesus’ to meet His holy demand so you and I could be free.

Jesus is more powerful than your sin.

Jesus is more powerful than your past.

Jesus is more powerful than your guilt.

Jesus is more powerful than your regret.

If you have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation but you still have one hand on your guilt—let go. Use both hands to unwrap the precious gift of grace and freedom Jesus paid for with His blood. If you have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation but you are staring at an unopened package because you have both hands tightly wrapped around your guilt—LET GO of that guilt.

God didn’t send Jesus to make you feel bad about your sin. God sent Jesus so you could be free.

Father, as I read and meditate on this passage, help me understand that You are willing to forgive and forget ALL my sin. Teach me the truth. You offer something very different from what anyone else offers me. You offer something very different from what I would offer myself. Freedom—because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Thank You for the gift of Your Son.

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